Influence of hosts on the ecology of arboviral transmission: potential mechanisms influencing dengue, Murray Valley encephalitis, and Ross River virus in Australia

Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2009 Feb;9(1):51-64. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2008.0040. Epub 2008 Sep 18.


Ecological interactions are fundamental to the transmission of infectious disease. Arboviruses are particularly elegant examples, where rich arrays of mechanisms influence transmission between vectors and hosts. Research on host contributions to the ecology of arboviral diseases has been undertaken within multiple subdisciplines, but significant gaps in knowledge remain and multidisciplinary approaches are needed. Through our multidisciplinary review of the literature we have identified five broad areas where hosts may influence the ecology of arboviral transmission: host immunity; cross-protective immunity and antibody-dependent enhancement; host abundance; host diversity; and pathogen spillover and dispersal. Herein we discuss the known and theoretical roles of hosts within these topics and then apply this knowledge to three epidemiologically important mosquito-borne arboviruses that occur in Australia: dengue virus (DENV), Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV), and Ross River virus (RRV). We argue that the underlying mechanisms by which hosts influence arboviral activity are numerous and attempts to delineate these mechanisms further are needed. Investigations that focus on hosts of vector-borne diseases are likely to be rewarding, particularly where the ecology of vectors is relatively well understood. From an applied perspective, enhanced knowledge of host influences upon vector-borne disease transmission is likely to enable better management of disease burden. Finally, we suggest a framework that may be useful to identify and determine host contributions to the ecology of arboviruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Alphavirus Infections / virology
  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Biodiversity
  • Cross Protection / physiology
  • Culicidae / virology
  • Dengue / transmission*
  • Dengue / virology
  • Dengue Virus / physiology*
  • Encephalitis Virus, Murray Valley / physiology*
  • Encephalitis, Arbovirus / transmission*
  • Encephalitis, Arbovirus / virology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / virology
  • Models, Biological
  • Research / trends
  • Ross River virus / physiology*